Cooper, Samuel

, an eminent English painter, was born in London in 1609, and bred under the care and discipline of Mr. Hoskins, his uncle: but derived the most considerable advantages from his observations on the works of Van Dyck, insomuch that he was commonly styled the Van Dyck in miniature. His pencil was generally confined to ahead only; and indeed below that part he was not always so successful as could be wished. But for a face, and all the dependencies of it, namely the graceful and becoming air, the strength, relievo, and noble spirit, the softness and tender liveliness of flesh and blood, and the looseness and gentle management of the hair, his talent was so extraordinary, that, for the honour of our nation, it may without vanity be affirmed, he was at least equal to the most famous Italians; and that hardly any one of his predecessors has ever been able to shew so much perfection in so narrow a compass. The high prices of his works, and the great esteem in which they were held at Rome, Venice, and in France, were abundant proofs of their great worth, and extended the fame of this master throughout Europe. He so far exceeded his master and uncle Hoskins, that the latter became jealous of him; and finding that the court was better pleased with his nephew’s performances than with his, he took him into partnership with him, but his jealousy increasing, he dissolved it; leaving our artist to set up for himself, and to carry, as he did, most of the business of that time before him. He drew Charles II. and his queen, the duchess of Cleveland, the duke of York, and most of the court: but the two most famous pieces of his were those of Oliver Cromwell, and of one Swingfield. The French king offered Iso/, for the former, but was refused; and Cooper carrying the latter with him to France, it was much admired there, and introduced him into the favour of that court. *He likewise did several large limnings in an unusual size for the court of England; for which his widow received a pension during her life from the crown. This widow was sister to the mother of the celebrated Pope. | Answerable to Cooper’s abilities in painting, was his skill in music; and he was reckoned one of the best lutenists, as well as the most excellent limner, of his time. He spent several years of his life abroad, was personally acquainted with the greatest men of France, Holland, and his own country, and by his works was universally known in all parts of Europe. He died at London May 5, 1612, aged 63, and was buried in Pancras church in the fields; where there is a fine marble monument set over him, with a Latin inscription.

He had an elder brother, Alexander Cooper, who was also brought up to limning by Hoskins, their uncle. Alexander performed well in miniature; and going beyond sea, became limner to Christina, queen of Sweden, yet was far exceeded by his brother Samuel. He also painted landscapes in water-colours extremely well, and was accounted an admirable draughtsman. 1


Walpole’s Anecdotes. Pilkington.